Growing up in a Tech Space – What happens Next?

Learn what the Original Dragon is up to! How he uses his IDEAS now.


With the holiday season in full swing, we’re back with another dragon tale! This time catching up with the Original Digital Dragon (OGDD), Eli Finn. Eli was the inspiration for the founding of Digital Dragon and has since been cast as a legend for his fiery passion for innovation and perhaps his innate ability to calmly take a pie to the face.  

We currently find Eli in the midst of his 3rd year at San Jose State University where he’s pursuing a degree in Business Entrepreneurship. Beyond learning how to scale businesses, he also enjoys rock climbing, playing club tennis, and heading up the IDEAS (Innovation, Design, Engineering, Art & Science) Club. Despite being near the semester’s finals, we were able to have a quick exchange. Let’s dig in!


When asked about his role in the early days of Digital Dragon, Eli recalled how important our first space was. “I remember vividly the first studio that we had and seeing it for the first time. It was a super odd, but also very fun space and I think helped a lot to form the culture and environment of Digital Dragon. It was a quirky space that fit a young quirky company.”

This was great to hear, as we were intentional in choosing our first location, hoping to accomplish exactly what Eli noted. Furthermore, in these blog posts, we’ve spoken about the importance of the environment in which learning fills. Here, on my side of the country, we’ve been exploring space intensely with Seneca Valley School District leading the way. In collaboration with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Ehrman Crest Elementary and Middle School, has been recognized as one of Time’s best inventions of 2022.

As a former educator myself, it warmed my heart to hear that some of Eli’s favorite moments at Digital Dragon were as an instructor himself. I, unlike Eli, never had the courage to take a shaving cream pie to the dome!

So how did these events shape Eli for his journey beyond Digital Dragon? “I think my exposure to so many technological things as a kid made me a lot more open minded in terms of what I was willing to try and learn. It also showed me that having a multitude of skills is really important, even if it is just to understand what people in other disciplines are talking about.”  

The holistic approach to learning infused in the culture of Digital Dragon equipped Eli to follow his passion and study entrepreneurship. “…I was always trying to make new things, whether that be small business ideas or just things for fun. That spirit has stuck with me, and I still enjoy tinkering around with things.”

In looking to the future, the fire in the belly of the OGDD burns brightly: “I hope to work at a startup after college and have been looking forward to being part of building something new.”

TLDR; The brood of Digital Dragons that are the Finns encompass the entrepreneurial spirit in practice and do so with passion. Starting off in a quirky and super odd studio we were able to ask, “what would a learning environment for kids look like if we could design with them?” Best of luck to Eli on his finals, and next month – the story of another Digital Dragon alumnus emerges!


About the Author:

John Balash was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now back in the fold as a consultant on all the latest and greatest in tech education.This is John’s latest contribution to a monthly blog series we’ve launched, Tech News from the Frontier. John is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally-focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.